Will Durkee overcame a massive starting chip lead by Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo to beat Todd Terry heads-up for the $2k NLH Event #10 title.
1,531 players started this three-day event. Players who cashed included John Gale (78th $5,851), Clonie Gowen (64th $6,966), Brandi Hawbaker (55th $8,359), and John Murphy (12th $25,217).
The final table was held in a curtained off area just behind the ESPN Feature Table area. It was broadcast on www.worldseriesofpoker.com with an hour delay complete with hole cards and audio commentary. IHere in the Amazon Room, it seemed very bizarre as no spectators were allowed to watch their friends and loved ones.
Justin Bonomo entered the final table with a monstrous chipstack, of 2.0m with Hunter Frey (852k) and Michael Banducci (717k) well back. Bonomo's redemption has to be complete by now. His notorious episode of late 2005 is by now part of the history of online poker. After taking down a PokerStars Sunday tournament for $137k, a friend of his notified PokerStars that he had played two accounts during the tournament. Stars seized all of his funds, and ZeeJustin became a synonym for cheating at poker. Missed in all of this firestorm was an important point: Bonomo is very, very good at tournament poker.
He made four final tables during December's Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio including 7th at the $10k Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic ($152,230). With such a commanding chip lead, he would be tough to beat.
Ronnie Hofman (9th $32,880) and Gil George (8th $43,190) were first to bust out, then Will Durkee doubled through Bonomo. Just like that, the Final Table was on as Bonomo held a negligible chip lead.
Justin Bonomo: 1.3m
Hunter Frey: 1.24m
Will Durkee: 950k
Mike Banducci: 910k
Todd Terry: 677k
Stan Weiss: 600k
Walter Browne: 302k
After Will Durkee came over the top of Todd Terry's pre-flop raise and forced Terry to lay down his pocket jacks, Durkee had grabbed the chip lead. Bonomo then used baby aces to knock off short stacks Walter Browne (7th $58,515) and Stan Weiss (6th $78,020). As the blinds moved up to 20k/40k, Bonomo once again sat atop the chip lead (2.0m) only to see Durkee build up to 2.6m over the next thirty minutes. Bonomo attacked the blinds relentlessly, with the other four players content to wait for big hands to make a stand.
Durkee busted out Michael Banducci in brutal fashion. Banducci called in the small blind and Durkee checked. The flop came 5-6-7, and that was enough to get all of Banducci's chips eventually into the middle. He flipped over 6-5 for two pair, but Durkee held 7-5 for a slightly better two pair. In poker, slightly better is about like being slight pregnant, and Michael Banducci was out in 5th ($105,884).
The critical hand of the event came a few hands later between the two chip leaders. Justin Bonomo had Will Durkee covered by 475k and both players were all-in. Bonomo flipped over pocket kings and feared only one hand, which Durkee promptly showed. Durkee's pocket aces took down the massive pot of 3.85m and Bonomo's heart was in his stomach.
Bonomo shoved the remaining 475k into the pot with , and Durkee called with as he still stacked all of Bonomo's chips. The flop was a lively one, , and the gave Bonomo even more outs. Yet it was that ended Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo's best shot yet to take his first WSOP bracelet (4th $156,040).
Hunter Frey had held tight to a few chips during all of this, and it was a wise move as he quickly went out in 3rd ($231,273). Sometimes you play to win, but sometimes you play to grab another $75k as well.
Will Durkee had a 3:1 chip lead (4.575m vs 1.53m), but Todd Terry was one double up away from being all square. Both played tentatively for the first twenty minutes, folding blinds as they played without intent. Durkee finally jumped into attack mode and romped to the end.
By the final hand, Durkee felt compelled to call Terry's all-in only holding J-4. Terry was well ahead with A-Q, but the board of 8-9-10-Q-Q sent Todd Terry out with his trip queens (2nd $353,873). For Will Durkee, this grad student at Northwestern snatched the $566,916 in surely the strangest conditions a final table had yet been held in since the bizarre outdoor 1997 WSOP Main Event Final Table won by Stu Ungar. (Photo of Will Durkee courtesy of PokerNews)